$10K Grant Offers Support for Latino Students at Sandburg

  Aaron Frey
  Tuesday, November 24, 2020 11:23 AM
  Campus News

Galesburg, IL

With her parents’ income scaled back because of COVID-19, Allison Garcia was concerned she might have to reduce her number of classes this fall at Carl Sandburg College.

Then Garcia heard about a new grant program for Latino students that was available through the Carl Sandburg College Foundation. Garcia quickly applied and within a few days had $500 deposited into her account. It helped pay for two months of her tuition and kept her on track to graduate in May with her Associate in Arts with a concentration in criminal justice.

“It was really helpful because my parents didn't have to worry about it for two months,” said Garcia, who hopes to become a public defender. “It may not sound like a lot, but it takes a bit of stress off of things.”

And it meant more to her than just receiving financial support.

“It makes me feel like someone's supporting my goals,” Garcia said. “Like going to college, having a good career and bettering myself.”

The Foundation received funding for the grants through a newly formed partnership with the Chicago-based Latino Policy Forum. The support totaled $10,000, with 20 Sandburg students being awarded $500 each. Recipients were able to use the funds however they’d like, whether it be paying for tuition or things like groceries, utilities or childcare.

The Foundation provides scholarships and other financial support to Sandburg students — including additional COVID-19 emergency grants — with its own funds, but partnering with an outside organization like the Latino Policy Forum allowed it to expand its reach and target a more specific group of students.

“While impact is made consistently in our department through our endowed scholarships, in times such as this, needs can be met in bigger ways other than just tuition and fees,” said Emily Webel, executive director of advancement. “This is getting money directly to people.”

Although funds for the Latino Policy Forum grants have been exhausted, Webel said the Foundation continues to seek additional outside partners to directly help students successfully navigate these unprecedented times.

“This was met with a lot of gratitude, and that's just the crux of the whole story. Our students are trying to persevere, and sometimes you just need $500 to pay your rent or you just need to have some breathing room,” Webel said. “We are trying to identify community partners as well as utilize institutional and Foundation dollars to close that gap.”

Another recipient of the Latino Policy Forum grant, Sarahi Pierce, has worked at Smithfield Foods in Monmouth five years, including the last two years in the maintenance department. Pierce enrolled at Sandburg this fall in hopes of increasing her chances of getting a promotion at work. Although Pierce and her husband have been able to continue working throughout the pandemic, she applied for the grant to help pay for tuition, medical bills and to support her mother, who lives with them.

“Even though both of us are working, we were still struggling financially even before COVID,” Pierce said. “This grant really, really helped me a lot because it helped me to pay at least one month for the semester.”

Pierce said she wrestled with not applying for the grant but is thankful she eventually did — and encouraged others to do the same for similar funds they might be eligible for.

“In my head, I thought there's probably someone out there who needs it more than I do,” Pierce said. “Coming from a single parent, she always told me that I have to work hard for my money, so it kind of like made me feel like, do I really want to do this or not? I hesitated, but I decided to go for it. I’m glad I did, because it was a lot of help.”

To contribute to the Carl Sandburg College Foundation’s crisis grant fund, fill out an online form on sandburg.edu, or contact the Foundation at 309.341.5349 or foundation@sandburg.edu to set up your payment.


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Aaron Frey